Agriculture perspectives offered at energy conferenceWritten by Christy Hemken
“We’re going to start out talking about career opportunities on wind farms in Wyoming,” explains Werner. “We’re seeing a real lack of a work force not only for wind farm construction, but also for their maintenance after they’re up and running.”
He says the conference will offer a unique perspective in that it will speak from the ag perspective. “Those wind farms are going to be out there on the Wyoming plains, and the best people to work on them will be those farm and ranch kids who are already pretty good at fixing things,” he says.
Laramie County Community College already has a program in place to work in the wind energy industry. “This is an opportunity for people to come out of high school and gain training to work with the wind farms,” says Werner. “It’s a different twist on opportunities for ranch people.”
He says that, rather than driving into town to work an outside job, ranch people could work next door. “It’s a new topic on which we haven’t touched,” he notes.
The industrial siting process will also be a topic at the meeting. “There is confusion out there on what it is, how it affects wind farms and what the outcomes are,” says Werner. “There are unexpected twists and turns that the Wyoming Legislature and local folks weren’t expecting. We’re going to talk about the whole process and bring some insight about what to expect on both sides.”
Updates from Transwest Express – a 1,000-turbine proposal in Carbon County – and the Anschutz Wind Farm, another project with 1,000 turbines, will be offered. Werner says these updates will show people what’s being talked about with the big projects.
Rocky Mountain Power will present an update on their Glenrock and Carbon County projects, those that are both in the works and on the ground.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation will discuss wind integration issues. “The Corporation was formed by the government to look at how to make the grid reliable,” says Werner. “That’s counterintuitive to wind energy, so we’ll talk about how wind is integrated into the system, how it operates and the issues around that.”
Last on the first day’s agenda is an update from landowner associations.
Werner says the second day of the conference will be a little different, in that if weather permits Rocky Mountain Power will offer a tour of the Glenrock Wind Farm.
Following the wind farm tour, in conjunction with the Wyoming AgXpo’s trade show, will be a hands-on afternoon focusing on small-scale renewable energy. These mini conferences will feature small wind turbines, solar power, geothermal heat pumps, interconnection equipment and other topics relating to installing, connecting and operating small-scale equipment.
“Instead of having a large crowd approach, people will be able to get right up to the speakers and the equipment,” says Werner of the afternoon. “Rather than going with the lecture approach we’re going to try to get more into a one-on-one type of thing that will be ongoing Friday afternoon with the rest of the AgXpo.”
Werner says Thursday is the big wind day and Friday is for small-scale individual of units. “It seems like the big money and interest is in the big wind projects, but we wanted to offer something for the smaller projects as well,” he says.
Thursday’s conference will be held 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Ag Resource and Learning Center at 2011 Fairgrounds Road in Casper, while Friday afternoon’s events will be found in the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds arena from 1 to 4 p.m. A carpool to tour the Glenrock Wind Farm will leave the fairgrounds at 9 a.m. Friday. Both days are open to the public at no charge.
The Wyoming Business Council and the U.S. Department of Energy, along with Werner Solutions, will offer the conference. For more information on the Wyoming AgXpo, visit www.wyoagexpo.com. For more information on Roping the Wind, visit www.ropingthewind.org or call Ed Werner at 307-358-2007.